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Archive for January 4, 2020

Jan. 4, 2020 — Retrospectives, writ large

This morning, I was watching a block of programming on The Olympic Channel called “Take The Podium.”

Each episode is made up of four stories, which pretty much run the same arc: an athlete is introduced and interviewed, with text written over the screen explaining that the athlete was being awarded a different color medal than what s/he had won at a previous Olympics.

The reason: doping.

The thing is, for every prominent athlete like Carl Lewis and the 2000 U.S. women’s gymnastics team that receive upgrades like this, there are dozens upon hundreds of athletes across the years who are having ceremonies in places large and small.

One Lithuanian boxer chose to have the ceremony in a glitzy auditorium with the Prime Minister in attendance. A Japanese relay team had their ceremony at an outdoor track in Yokohama.

Since 2018, the IOC has been implementing a mechanism for the re-awarding of medals because of doping violations. These are violations which have only multiplied after both the BALCO scandal and the discovery of the Russian Olympic Committee’s state-sponsored doping mechanisms — and the Russian Federation’s unwillingness to do anything about it.

I have a feeling more and more of these are going to have to be made — not only to publicly point out dopers, but to inspire athletes who may have just missed the medals stand that they are still champions.